59 Cabbies Charged In Fare-Boosting Scam

Manhattan DA: Scheme May Involve Maybe 2,000 Drivers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of New York City taxi drivers have been arrested on charges of quietly doubling the rates that thousands of passengers should have paid. Officials say tourists and residents unsuspectingly overpaid hundreds of thousands of dollars in all.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

City officials said Wednesday that the 59 drivers were among far more who bumped up their meters to a higher suburban rate when they were in the city. Prosecutors say the cabbies stole a total of more than $235,000 during about 77,000 cab trips.

“Unfortunately, the worst offenders did this thousands and thousands of times to unsuspecting victims,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said.

Vance said one cabbie alone made made than $15,000 through the scheme.

The scam worked by pushing the button for out-of-town rate code 4, which is double the actual rate for within city limits, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

Some 45 drivers were being arraigned on charges of scheming to defraud. Another 14 face petty larceny charges.

Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky said officials are pursuing administrative penalties, including fines and revocation of driver’s licenses, against roughly 2,000 drivers over the issue.

On Wednesday some New Yorkers reacted with anger, including one woman who told CBS 2’s John Metaxas she may have been a victim.

“One time when I was in a cab I did see that he pressed the button but I never thought of it. I thought he was actually pressing the meter but it was going double the money, and I think they should be arrested and go to jail for that,” Lower East Side resident Carolyn Alleyne said.

The lawyer for some of the cab drivers said he was blindsided by the arrests.

“We were in the process of negotiating settlements. We were called in today for a further settlement conference and we were surprised that it was in fact a roundup at this point,” attorney Seth Katz said.

Katz told Metaxas the overcharges may have been the result of driver error or machine malfunction.

But the DA’s office said the evidence is there — the top alleged offenders pushing the code 4 button thousands of times each, illegally netting tens of thousands of dollars.

The taxicab industry serves over a half million New Yorkers each day and the vast majority of taxicab drivers are honest. That makes authorities even more emphatic in their insistence of holding accountable any who may have committed fraud.

“I don’t see why they need to make a couple of extra dollars and put it in their pocket and go about their business when a lot of people are out of work. It’s a shame,” Suffolk County resident Tom Pirraglia said.

“They stealing from the people of New York,” Harlem resident Jose Pina said.

“Well, I say New York cabs are expensive enough without it being doubled,” said Connie Garcia of Inwood.

More from Mona Rivera
  • http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/08/18/recent-investigation-finds-nyc-cab-drivers-charging-proper-rates/ City Department of Investigation Says New York City Cab Drives Charging Passengers The Appropriate Rates « CBS New York

    […] September, 59 drivers were charged with ripping off thousands of riders by repeatedly setting meters at a higher suburban rate when they actually were […]

  • The Truth

    Yeah I get it its wrong but if you add up the amount its small compare to the fact that a fireman get this as a pension tax free. Oh and Cathie Black makes two to three times that and she is not needed. Look pass the smoke people and see the roaches behind it all.

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    […] 59 Cabbies Charged In Fare-Boosting Scam Print Share 0 […]

  • neomobia

    There’s an app on the Android Market called “Fair Fare” that will calculate your cab fare as you ride using the phone’s GPS. Then you’ll know if you are being charged correctly.

  • Khan

    To All Taxi Rider please…

    call 311 or 212-( new York ) and tell the mayor office /TLC to remove that option No,4 ( doubling the fate) its pretty easy to remove that option from the build in software rather than running around and getting your money back…..thank

    sincerely, A Honest Cab Driver

  • Carlos

    As a cab driver in new York, I think that if the driver done it more than ten times he’s guilty and ten times is too much. We are being depended by new yorkers as well as other people, we should not act as thieves I don’t care who it is. Yet we are still cheaper than the real thieves who drive around in town cars overcharging people. How about cracking down on those guys. People if u are being overcharged by them call the police is only fare to charge the right fare.

  • sunny

    i dont understand what city wants from cab drivers , 5% on credit cards , additional drivers fee 100 $ .50 cents for mta thats dosent make any sense , hustlers on jfk pick the pessengers even they dont have a tlc plates , black cars in the cities who does a street pick up no rules for them , all the rules and regulation is for the cabbies , last 4 years is any favor or a fare raise for a cabbies , five years before a gallon of milk is 1.80 $ now is 4$ more than a double city have to think about that the cabbies have the families ,

  • corre

    Have you ever taken a black car in midtown and be told the fare is $25 for a 15 city block ride?.They pick up everyday illegally in midtown and yet I hear nobody complain, these black cars to me are the real thieves. How come TLC doesn’t enforce their own rules about the car service soliciting in the streets of NYC

  • Farceur2

    I am former Cabbie who received a letter from TLC claiming I overcharged passengers 95 times and I made $135 out of it(135/95=1.35). II went to the so called administrative hearing I guess they were expecting me to plead guilty. I asked for proof and they handed me trip sheet from 2008. As it turned out every single rate 4 on my trip was a flat rate trip to or from JFK of $45 and the GPS confirms the location of either the pick up nor drop off including the toll. So before you point the finger at cabbies inform yourself…

  • darren

    who cares and too bad i love america

  • romeo

    TLC just change the function of the meter so that the driver can’t charge double fare.

  • Roger1

    Wonder how many they could deport for this most more than likely

  • brennan

    Please tell me how that is stealing? Can cab drivers not charge what they want? can i claim target stole $3 from me because their toothpaste is double the cost of dollar general?

    • Jimmy

      The fare is posted on the side of the cab. That’s what I expect to be charged. When a bill comes in the mail would you like it to be more than you expected to pay when you made the purchase?

    • jeff

      Uh, no, they can’t charge what they want. Its a pretty tightly regulated business, at least in NYC. Not saying that regulation is right or wrong, just saying it is regulated.


      No Brennan, they may not charge whatever they want. Cab fares in NYC are regulated. I have heard tourist claim the cab driver charged them extra if they put on the air conditioner; which is illegal. Bottom line, I don’t trust any of them.

    • Thomas

      yellow cabs are regulated to charge the same amounts across the board,they agree to this and are given the priveledge of picking up passengers in the streets

  • matt

    wow they stole an average of $3 dollars a trip, must’ve been some short rides if they doubled the amount

    • fan1thom

      What does Americans expect, look at the list of names and you should not have any further doubt..that is why we should all wake up before it is to late. THE CONCERN CITIZEN.

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